Next JS vs React: Understanding the Differences and Making the Right Choice
With both frameworks becoming increasingly popular for web development, it can be difficult to determine which one is the right fit for your project.
In this article, we will compare React.js and Next.js, two excellent tools for building dynamic web applications.
Since there are many similarities between Next and React, we decided to pinpoint their differences, explain what they mean in practice, and help you choose between them, so you can guarantee a more straightforward development process and easy maintenance of your web application in the years to come.
In this article:
What is React?
In the last ten years, React has evolved to be incredibly fast, efficient, and easy to use and maintain. In fact, React is used by some of the most popular web applications today.
What is Next.js?
Thanks to its simple development process, Next.js is an excellent choice for both personal and commercial projects. It is fast, has built-in features for optimizing the load time of images and scripts, easy routing, and, most importantly, an SEO-friendly design.
Next JS vs. React
The main difference between the two is that React is a library for building the front-end, whereas Next.js is a complete framework with all the necessary features required to develop a web application.
It should be noted that Next.js apps use React to build the front-end. For this reason, React is an inseparable part of Next.js.
In short, Next.js is an extension of React that provides features of a complete framework and is structured to follow the best practices of React.
Focus on building UIs, lacks components of a complete framework.
Built-in solutions for developing a web application.
Detailed and extensive.
Excellent as well.
Highly customizable, lot of room for improvisation.
Possible be optimized further.
Commonly used with both TS and JS.
Most online resources written in TS.
No, CSR by default.
Yes, SSR and SSG.
|Performance & SEO
Slower, bad for SEO.
Smaller but very active.
Easy, but the variety of builds can be confusing.
Even easier, more streamlined than React.
#1 Learning curve
Currently, React is evolving towards accessibility and ease of use. For example, the latest updates introduced hooks and removed limitations of functional components to make their implementation easier.
React contains every essential feature to build fast, interactive user interfaces. Although it lacks components of a complete framework, such as routing, it is part of its design, so developers are free to choose any back-end or routing libraries to work with React.
Next.js is one of the many frameworks that augments React. It is a complete framework with built-in solutions for routing, SEO optimization, back-end, and every other feature necessary to build an actual web application.
#3 Development cost
Next and React are both straightforward by design. Companies can minimize development costs by selecting those features of Next and React that are best for their optimal use cases.
React is best used for dynamic elements – notifications, reports, admin dashboards, and even live messaging.
Although developers use React for its features often, you’ll rarely see a website built only with React, as it’s typically used along other technologies. Usually, that technology is Next.js.
Next.js uses React for the front-end and provides simple solutions for routing, back-end, SEO optimization, and other essential features. Faster implementation of these features means lower development costs in total.
Finally, both technologies are open-source, so companies using Next or React don’t have to pay any licensing fees.
Both React and Next have very extensive documentation.
React docs include tutorials for developers at all levels of expertise. In addition to practical examples, they provide detailed explanations of fundamental concepts, and changes from one version to another are clearly documented. Moreover, every guide includes references that allow you to find the information you need quickly.
As of May 2023, React documentation is available in 17 languages, making it accessible to developers from all around the world.
Documentation for Next.js is excellent as well. Docs are organized into different sections and pages covering every feature from A to Z, along with frequently asked questions.
Next.js has a default structure that follows the best practices of React. For most developers, this is an excellent foundation for building dynamic web applications. Experienced developers are free to configure Next and optimize it for their purposes.
When working with React, developers can choose any library to implement features like routing and the back-end. There’s a lot of room for improvisation, but it’s the responsibility of developers to determine the correct supporting libraries to build their web applications with React.
Overall, React is easier to configure because developers can choose any supporting library to build upon its basic features. That said, React also has general practices that need to be followed for the web application to work.
We’ve seen firsthand the impact that choosing the right framework can have on a project’s success. We advise our clients to consider not only their business needs and goals, but also their team’s expertise and comfort level with each framework. To make a fully informed decision, we recommend exploring factors such as scalability, performance, and community support. CEO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk
Web applications written in TypeScript are easy to maintain, which is why it is used in most commercial and personal projects.
Next.js fully supports TypeScript and even provides custom types for pages, API routes, and methods for fetching data. Developers can enable TypeScript simply by adding the –ts flag to a create-next-app command.
Server-side rendering is the process of rendering pages, storing them on the server, and sending them to the user when requested. When the client (the user) receives all the necessary files from the get-go and rendering is handled by the browser, we’re talking about client-side rendering.
By default, React applications are rendered on the client side. This is great because users can seamlessly navigate from one page to another without having to wait for the server’s response. The downside of this approach is that the content is invisible to search engines, so your application will receive little to no organic traffic from search.
Next.js combines rendering techniques so that we can have the best of both worlds – the speed of CSR and the SEO-friendliness of SSR. You can read more about Server-Side Rendering in React using Next.js. The framework also utilizes static site generation (SSG), which allows for building web apps that keep everyone happy – humans and search engines alike.
#8 Performance & SEO
Next.js, on the other hand, combines rendering techniques to build fast, user-friendly, and, most importantly, SEO-optimized web applications.
In addition to SEO optimization, Next also reduces load times of scripts and images, provides built-in responsivity features, security measures, a simple development process, and built-in TypeScript support for easy maintenance. In short, it addresses small and medium-sized businesses’ most vital web development needs.
React has a large community of developers who create utilities and packages to extend its basic features. For beginner developers, a larger community means that it’s easier to find help on platforms like StackOverflow.
It should be noted, however, that both Next and React have excellent documentation, so beginner developers can usually find answers to their questions without asking on StackOverflow.
Next.js community is smaller than React’s; nonetheless, there’s plenty of help available. It is also open-source, so the community of Next.js is quite engaged and passionate about the framework.
For employers, React’s bigger community allows for hiring from a larger pool of developers. Next.js is a more distinctive technology than React, so naturally, there are fewer developers available for hire. Regardless, you should be able to find experienced Next.js developers to join your ranks.
The core React library can be used only for building user interfaces. Developers can, however, use supporting libraries to extend the basic functionality of React and build a fully functional web application.
The good news is that React builds can be customized to meet your development needs. The bad news is that there can be countless different varieties of builds that use varying tech stacks. Let’s say the developer who built a React app leaves and you want to hire a new developer to continue their work. A new employee might then find their codebase harder to understand.
Next.js is considerably more streamlined than React. When handing over a project, a new developer can easily pick up where the previous employee left off.
The advantage of React is that it is component-based. Fixing one buggy component is much easier than rewriting an entire web application. This is also the case with Next, because its user interfaces are built with React.
Both Next and React support TypeScript, which is essential for the maintenance of web applications on a large scale.
When is React your best choice? Best use cases
The Facebook team created React so that users could see new notifications, comments, and posts without reloading the page. React has evolved since then, but its central idea remains the same – it is a library for building interactive web apps and immediately updating the view to reflect user interactions.
React is great for building interactive pages and features like news feeds, instant messaging, quizzes and forms, dashboards, data visualizations, and any interactive feature where user actions determine the contents of the page.
As a general rule of thumb, React is an excellent choice when seamless user experience and speed are your utmost priority.
When to use Next JS? Best use cases
Next.js would be a fine choice for any project, but its advantages are especially beneficial for creating specific types of applications.
If you’re looking for eCommerce web development, Next.js might be the framework for you. It has everything you need – fast loading, image and script optimization, and, most importantly, an SEO-friendly design. Every part of your eCommerce store – from the homepage to individual product pages – can be optimized to rank high in Google (and Bing) search results. This is important for business, as organic search engine traffic converts into sales very well.
Next.js even offers a starter kit for building an eCommerce store, so you can start building your online business right away.
Next.js is also often used for landing pages that promote a specific product or a service. Although this is mainly done for SEO purposes, the user-friendly features of Next.js are not without their merit.
In addition to these everyday use cases, Next.js is an excellent choice for blogs, apps for booking tickets and hotels, and any website with high-quality content and the potential to rank in search engines.
In conclusion, both React and Next have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, making it difficult to arbitrarily determine which framework is the right choice for your web development project.
React’s popularity and vast community support make it an excellent choice for building user interfaces, while Next’s server-side rendering and static site generation capabilities make it a great tool for fast web application development.
Ultimately, the decision between React and Next will depend on the specific needs of your project, as well as your personal preferences and experience as a developer.
Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting out, we hope this article has provided valuable insights to help you make an informed decision and begin building your web application. Keep us in mind when it becomes an overnight success!
This gave rise to the client-side rendering process where the browser renders the HTML page by modifying DOM (Document Object...